LAS VEGAS — A new Sanchez era at Bishop Gorman picked up Saturday night right where the previous one left off — with another win. And Tyjon Lindsey made sure of it.
Kenny Sanchez took over as Gorman’s head coach with his brother Tony down the road coaching at UNLV. And the Gaels, who had won 24 consecutive games and entered the season ranked No. 3 in the Super 25, rolled past visiting No. 20 Chandler (Ariz.) 35-14 before a packed Fertitta Field. With losses by No. 1 De La Salle (Concord, Calif.) and No. 2 Miami Central, defending Super 25 champion Gorman could move to the top of the rankings when they are released Monday.
Tony Sanchez, the American Family Insurance ALL-USA Coach of the Year last season, was among those in the stands watching, sitting alongside UFC president Dana White and UFC co-owner Lorenzo Fertitta, a large donor who helped pay for the stadium named for his father.
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Kenny Sanchez said he felt just fine in the driver’s seat his brother had so ably occupied. He said he spent most the game focusing on calling defensive plays (he had been defensive coordinator), and let the rest of his staff do its jobs. Tony Sanchez left the Gorman staff largely intact, only bringing one assistant with him to UNLV.
“We all worked under a phenomenal football coach who coaches at UNLV right now, so we all had time to learn from a really good guy,” Kenny Sanchez said. “And it showed tonight. We were ready to go.”
Lindsey showed a flare for the dramatic befitting a game televised nationally by ESPNU as part of the GEICO ESPN High School Kickoff. He caught a 30-yard pass in the second quarter for Gorman’s third touchdown and then had the game-shifting play in the third quarter — an interception deep in Gorman territory that dashed Chandler’s momentum and stuffed its comeback hopes.
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Chandler (1-1) was eyeing an upset, and the USA TODAY HSS Score Predictor thought it could pull off a three-point win. But the Wolves lost one of its most potent offensive weapons on the kickoff, when running back-cornerback Chase Lucas went down with an injury and left the game. He was scheduled for an MRI on Monday, coach Shaun Aguano said afterward.
Gorman led 21-7 at halftime, but Chandler and quarterback Mason Moran, who has committed to attending Oregon State, made a third-quarter push. With 6:16 to go in the quarter, Moran faked a handoff, rolled right and broke free, running 44 yards for a touchdown.
Then, with about a minute to go in the quarter, Moran hit wide receiver N’keal Harry on fourth-and-nine to sustain Chandler’s drive and move to Gorman’s 28.
But Moran followed with a mistake, an errant backside throw toward the left sideline. And Lindsey, who has been recruited by Arizona State, Ohio State and Oregon, among others, was waiting.
“I couldn’t see the corner from where I was at because there was a lineman basically shadowing where the cornerback was,” Moran said. “So I threw it up and it was pretty much a 50-50 ball. And Tyjon Lindsey came down with it.”
Lindsey, playing cornerback, said he saw the play developing when the receiver he was covering cut in and the receiver the Gorman safety behind him was covering cut outside.
“I saw my man vacate, I saw him leave,” Lindsey said. “Then I saw (Moran) throw it up, and I broke on it, and made a play.”
Gorman coach Sanchez called the interception huge.
“We really needed that,” he said. “And great football players find a way to make great plays. That really wasn’t coaching, it was cover zero across the board. We stuck Tyjon on a good receiver and he went after him and made an interception.”
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Sanchez said practice ensured the Gaels would make their third-quarter scare brief. In the last six years under the Sanchez brothers, he said, Gorman has been in every possible situation against formidable teams. Another marquee game is on the schedule next week against Bingham from South Jordan, Utah.
“We don’t get worried about stuff,” he said. “We just focus on the task at hand and no matter what happens, what arises during the game, we just keep on going.”
Keep going it did. Gorman running back Biaggio Ali Walsh, who had scored on a 55-yard run in the first half, capped a 14-play drive by taking a third-down-and-9 screen pass and running for an 18-yard score with 6:05 in the fourth quarter. Walsh, the grandson of Muhammad Ali, had 97 rushing yards on 14 carries and 66 yards receiving on three catches.
Gaels running back Jonathan Schumaker added a 21-yard touchdown run with 1:03 left in the game to complete the scoring.
Aguano said he was proud of his team for competing, especially after losing Lucas, who early reports say might have a medial collateral ligament sprain his knee.
Aguano added that his team made too many assignment and alignment mistakes, but he said Gorman was a better team Saturday.
“And their best player made a pick,” he said, referring to Lindsey. “That’s why he has all those (college scholarship) offers.”